Managers and leaders adopt different styles of decision making based on their personality, the situation they face, the culture of the organization, characteristics of the people they are working with, and the nature of the decision itself. There are five essential styles of decision making:
- Autocratic: The group leader solves the problem using the information he possesses. He does not consult with anyone else or seek information in any form. This style assumes that the leader has sufficient information to examine all the relevant options and make an effective decision.
- Information seeking: When a leader does not possess sufficient information to make an effective decision, she needs to obtain it from others. She may simply ask for the input she needs without telling the others what the problem is. The leader then evaluates the information and makes the decision.
- Consultation: The leader explains the situation and provides relevant information to a group or individual, and together they generate and evaluate many alternatives. Another possibility is that the leader asks the group or individual to conduct a survey or an investigation and make recommendations based on the results. Finally, the leader evaluates the solutions or recommendations the group or individual has put forward and then makes a decision, which may or may not take these views into account.
- Negotiation: The leader explains the situation to the group or individual and provides the relevant information. Together they attempt to reconcile differences and negotiate a solution that is acceptable to all parties. The leader may consult with others before the meeting in order to prepare his case and generate alternatives that are acceptable to everyone involved.
- Delegation: Responsibility and authority for making the decision are given to the group or individual. The leader provides all the relevant information that he possesses. The leader's role then becomes that of facilitator or guide, but he does not attempt to force his opinions on the group. He should be prepared to accept and implement the proposed solution.
According to behavioralist Isabel Briggs Myers, a person's decision-making style depends to a significant degree on how they think about and assess information, or what is called their cognitive style. While some are more comfortable with an objective analytical approach, others are confident in being guided by their feelings and emotions. People who trust information that is concrete and present will seek out facts and knowledge from others, while those who rely on intuition and instinct may be more likely to make decisions without much participation from others.